I went undercover with Homeland Security to snare pedophile | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

IT didn’t take Kevin Laws long to realize the hell he was walking into.

Back in 1996, with the internet just beginning to develop into the beast we know today, the computer forensics expert was tasked with infiltrating a new phenomenon – online chat rooms.

The FBI continually works on trying to catch online predators, but the daily battle continuesCredit: Getty
Kevin Laws worked undercover in online chatrooms for years and told The U.S. Sun that parents need to be aware of what their kids are doingCredit: kandsteaching

Initially, his child predator-hunting team would try and weed out child abusers by posting advertisements in adult magazines, and then analyzing the responses.

It was an arduous task, but when a federal special investigations officer asked Laws to look into a man who was attempting to groom a young child online, his eyes were opened to a troubling hellscape that continues to disgust to this very day.

Laws would work undercover in popular internet chatrooms – either masquerading as a child or adult depending on the circumstance – and his revelations were disturbing and sick in equal measure.

And his efforts helped spearhead the creation of a cyber security division of the Department of Homeland Security after it was founded in 2002 to focus on exclusively digital child predation.

Some people would look to strike up a relationship with the kid or attempt to break gut-wrenching deals to take a minor into their care and abuse them.

“If you’ve ever seen on shows like Dateline about how they catch predators, it was like that,” admitted Laws who became so entrenched in his valiant work he wrote a book about his experiences in the hope lessons learned can protect the children of tomorrow.

When Laws, now retired, sat down with The U.S. Sun, he told numerous tales from his 66 arrests over the years, most of which are too troubling and depraved to retell.

Some would involve him luring the perpetrator to a park and library, with the cops waiting in the background to assist with the operation.

One interaction lasted less than 28 hours, from the moment they first made contact to the arrest.

“He was a middle-aged guy running a prominent organization who liked boys,” recalled Laws.

“The only reason he didn’t meet up straight away was because he had a fundraiser that evening.”

Others could last up to six months, with Laws often engaging with multiple, deranged individuals at once.

The fact that one of the worst cases he worked on involved a seemingly normal woman in her mid-30s illustrates that you can never be sure who is lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce.

His book – Hunter of the Damned – is described as “raw and heartfelt” while leaving the reader “with a true understanding of child exploitation.”

Although many of the early internet chatrooms are policed online, the rise of social media and the ability to communicate within popular video games has given sexual predators new, efficient ways of going about their business.

According to the Center for Parenting Education, kids on average spend around six hours a day using technology, which is plenty of time for pedophiles to snare and groom their prey.

Popular games like Roblox and Minecraft all have chat options, while the obvious routes via social media platforms also leave children susceptible and vulnerable.

“The predators are in there,” warned Laws. “And they know the kids are in there too.”

He fears some of the problems stem from the parents perhaps not understanding the technology, and just how easy it is for their children to be approached in an online setting, whether that be in a game or by other means.

“A mom or dad may ask who their child is chatting with and be told it’s a 12-year-old who likes the same game,” Laws continued.

“Instead, it’s a 40-year-old predator grooming them.”

So what can be done?

Telling your kid to stop using their iPad entirely isn’t an option for most, so keeping abreast of what they are playing and with whom is crucial.

“The most aggravating thing I would hear from parents is that they didn’t want to spy on their children,” lamented Laws.

“But you should be spying. And it’s not spying, anyway. It’s called parenting.”

Sick online sexual predators target kids by using chat functions in games or messaging with them on social mediaCredit: Getty

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